WATCH A video about how to avoid heart disease has emerged on YouTube, with a message that is all too familiar to us: Stop using heart-healthy foods.
In the video, a doctor shows us how to reduce the number of foods we eat that are high in cholesterol and fat, such as cheese, chocolate and olive oil.
But the doctor says it’s also important to eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
She explains that our body needs these foods to help regulate blood sugar levels, to protect against blood clots, and to digest fats.
“It’s very important to limit these foods,” Dr. Lisa Kohn, a registered dietitian and director of the American Heart Association’s Heart Health Center at the University of California, Davis, said.
“They have been proven to be helpful.”
Dr. Kohn says we’re not as good at cutting back on these foods as we were 20 years ago, when most Americans were cutting back.
But there are still plenty of ways to cut back on saturated fat, refined sugar, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and alcohol.
So what are we eating that’s causing heart disease?
There are some very simple, yet very important, strategies to reduce heart disease.
These are things that can lower your risk of dying of heart disease: Limit processed foods.
“There’s an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people who consume a lot of processed foods,” said Dr. John Wysocki, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
The risk of cardiovascular disease is higher among those who eat a lot more processed foods, according to a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Avoid sugary beverages.
The American Heart Institute recommends avoiding soft drinks and artificial sweeteners.
“We know that they are really high in calories,” Dr Kohn said.
Eat less red meat.
Red meat is a very healthy part of a diet.
“Red meat is one of the healthiest meats that you can eat,” said Wysocksocki.
“You can get heart health benefits from eating red meat.”
If you’re a vegan, the health benefits are not as great.
“Veganism is an ethical position,” he said.
It is a way of eating that is low in animal products.
Also, it can lower blood pressure.
If you do choose to eat meat, make sure you’re eating the most healthful cuts.
Eat more vegetables.
“A lot of people who are vegan don’t eat red meat,” said Kohn.
“That’s one of our big recommendations.
They may have a lot less fat in the diet, but they’re eating vegetables and other healthful things.”
Avoid processed foods with added sugar.
“Adding sugar is one part of the problem,” Kohn told me.
“Another part of it is people have high blood pressure, and they’re consuming too much of it.”
Eat more whole grains, leguminous vegetables and nuts.
“When we think about sugar, we think of sugar-sweetened beverages,” she said.
But grains and legumes, such inulin and quinoa, are actually rich in fiber, which helps lower your blood sugar and insulin levels.
“The benefits are just as great as the sugars, even if they taste different,” said Tania Gaviria, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Also eat more whole foods with fiber.
“If you’re getting the fiber that’s naturally occurring in the fruit, nuts, whole grains and vegetables, it has a lot to do with what’s in the gut,” said Gavis.
This is why many people think eating fruits and vegetables makes them healthy, but it doesn’t.
“All fruits and veggies are full of fiber,” said Jodi O’Brien, an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard Medical School.
You’re also getting some fiber from fiber-rich foods such as flaxseeds and chickpeas, as well as nuts, seeds and beans.
“I’ve found that eating a variety of fruits and berries and whole grain cereals, like whole grain breads and rice, is really good for the body,” she told me in a phone interview.
Also avoid saturated fats.
One of the things that is very harmful is the fact that saturated fat is a major contributor to heart disease because it raises cholesterol and blood pressure in the body.
“What we need to do is take out saturated fats from our diet,” Gavides said.
You can do this by limiting the amount of refined sugars in processed foods and by choosing less red meats, she said, and substituting healthier fats for those fats.
Eat a diet rich in protein.
Protein is essential for building muscle and maintaining muscle mass.
“People who eat the right amounts of protein and carbs in their diet are